Sunday 20 April 2014


Biographical Dictionary of Yiddish Writers

Welcome to this new blog.  I hope those of you willing and able will join me in this adventure, because this is something that one simply cannot do alone.  My plan is to start posting online translations from the eight-volume Leksikon fun der nayer yidisher literatur (Biographical dictionary of modern Yiddish literature), published by the Congress for Jewish Culture a half century ago.  These translations are neither meant to replace the originals, nor are they authorized, but they are offered as tools for those interested in the many topics they raise.  The eight volumes of this work fill roughly 4,800 columns and thousands of individual author entries—many very famous and subjects of studies in their own right, but many others of much less well known writers, poets, journalists, teachers, and translators.  Where information is available, I have added snippets here and there—such as inserting a date or correcting a typo.  I have not, however, attempted to write fuller biographies of all the entries—that would require another lifetime.
I have started right at “alef” and will post a handful every time that I am able to do so.  Readers interested in participating or correcting should contact me through the comments section of this blog.  I can then serve as a clearing house for translations.  Again, the aim is to make this wonderful source available to more readers.  Where visual material is available, I will add it to the blog posts.
I have as a rule translated all titles, including journal and newspaper titles (except in the source notes), and on occasion added a piece of bibliographical information not in the original Leksikon.
Der redactor
April 2014

Update (December 10, 2015):

Yossi Galron-Goldschl√§ger, Judaica librarian at Ohio State University, has brought to my attention Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers), compiled by Berl Kagan (New York, 1986).  It includes additional information on many of the writers in the main Leksikon being translated and adds a number of names that did not make it into that earlier work.  I shall, slowly but surely, begin to add that information to entries already translated until I catch up.
 Kagan has a few lines by Ber Borochov as a frontispiece quotation.  I cite it here in English translation: "A lexicon should register and describe, but not evaluate and not praise or criticize.  Everything is short.  Not a single name of someone who has a connection to literature should be missing from a lexicon."

Der redaktor


  1. Hi Joshua, how goes your Leksikon translations? I have finished translating completely Zylbercweig's "Lexicon," V. 1 and am about seventy pages away from completing V. 2. Although they are in need of editing, as I am not a professional translator.

    1. Great! I saw something to this effect in FB. Keep it Up.